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Ford Focus III RS: Developed by Ford in Saarlouis, in Germany, the new hot Focus is Ford's first global RS product - the first of many.

by Dave Moore, February 23 2015

Ford has just previewed its new all-wheel-drive Ford Focus RS, the high-performance road car that fans have been waiting with bated breath for since the Focus III came out three years ago.

Equipped with the same 2.3-litre EcoBoost block employed by the all-new Mustang engine and engineered to produce well in excess of 320 bhp (235kW) the Focus RS is part of a new line-up of performance Fords that will bring more than a dozen new performance vehicles by 2020.

"The all-new Focus RS is a serious machine with high-performance technology and innovative engineering that sets a new benchmark for driving exhilaration on the road and track," says Raj Nair, group vice president, Global Product Development, Ford Motor Company.

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First Ford RS: Escort fans might not realize that the first ''RS'' was based on the Ford 15M from Germany.

Developed by a small team of Ford Performance engineers in Europe and the United States, the new Focus RS is the third generation of Focus RS cars, following models launched in 2002 and 2009. It will be the 30th car to wear the legendary RS badge.

It all started with the Ford 15M RS, in 1968, creating a string of high-performance Fords that included the 16-valve 1970 Escort RS1600 and the RS2000, the famous European Touring Car RS Capris and the Sierra RS Cosworth of 1985 with its radical aerodynamics, as well as the four-wheel-drive 1992 Escort RS Cosworth. The first Focus to gain the RS badge was the series one model in 2002

Sporting a dramatic exterior with enhanced aerodynamics and cooling, the new Focus RS offers technologies new to the RS marque including Ford SYNC connectivity.

The new Focus RS, which will be the 30th vehicle to wear the RS badge since 1968; will be built in Saarlouis, Germany, starting later this year. Professional rally driver and star of Gymkhana films Ken Block teamed with Ford as a consultant on the development of Focus RS.

The new Focus RS is the first ever RS model that will be sold around the world and will be produced for all markets at Saarlouis from late this year. Block joined the Ford Performance team at the preview event in Cologne, Germany - the city where the RS legend was born in 1968 with the Ford 15M RS.

The new Focus RS uses Ford's All-Wheel-Drive, with Dynamic Torque Vectoring, a system based on twin electronically controlled clutch packs on each side of the rear drive unit.

These manage the car's front/rear torque split, and can control the side-to-side torque distribution on the rear axle - delivering the "torque vectoring" capability, that has a dramatic impact on handling and stability.

The rear drive unit continuously varies the front/rear and side-to-side torque distribution to suit the ambient driving conditions, monitoring inputs from multiple vehicle sensors 100 times a second. A maximum of 70 per cent of the drive torque can be diverted to the rear axle.

Up to 100 per cent of the available torque at the rear axle can be sent to each rear wheel. During cornering, the rear drive unit pre-emptively diverts torque to the outer rear wheel based on inputs such as steering wheel angle, lateral acceleration, yaw and speed. This torque transfer has the effect of "driving" the car into the bend, achieving improved turn-in and stability, and virtually eliminating understeer.

Other RS chassis features include sports suspension with spring rates, bushes and anti-roll-bars all of which are stiffer than those found in the Focus ST, and two-mode switchable dampers, which offer a firmer setting for track driving. A carefully tuned electric power-assisted steering system working in combination with a more rigid front suspension knuckle design and shorter link arms, delivers connected and responsive steering with outstanding feel.

Projected to deliver well in excess of 235kW, the bespoke power unit shares its fundamental structure with the all-aluminium four-cylinder 2.3-litre engine in the all-new Mustang. This engine has, however, been significantly upgraded through a comprehensive package of design changes.

Increased output is generated by a new low-inertia twin-scroll turbocharger with larger compressor that delivers significantly greater air flow, along with a much bigger intercooler to maximize charge density.

The RS's six-speed manual transmission has a shorter lever to deliver faster and more accurate shifts while the transmission itself and the clutch have been upgraded with stronger components to cope with the engine's increased torque output.

With Auto-Start-Stop fitted as standard, preliminary figures indicate that CO2 emissions will be significantly reduced compared with the previous RS models.

Based on the new Focus, the RS features a powerful new front-end appearance with a bold upper trapezoidal grille above the deep front splitter, incorporating the largest possible apertures for engine cooling. A wide, muscular stance is emphasised by the lower wings

and large outboard openings on each side of the car, which feed the brake cooling ducts and house vertically mounted fog lamps.

At the rear a large diffuser optimizes air flow from under the vehicle to reduce drag, and contains the twin round high-performance exhaust outlets and, in Europe and Asia, a clear central fog lamp. The distinctive rear roof spoiler is carefully integrated with the car's

silhouette through body-colored side panels featuring a subtle embossed RS logo.

Standard Bi-Xenon HID headlamps offer Adaptive Front Lighting, which adjusts the intensity and angle of the headlamp beams according to vehicle speed, steering angle and distance to objects for optimal illumination. Customers also can specify the latest Active City Stop automatic braking technology which operates at speeds of up to 50kmh. The high-performance character of the RS is reflected inside the car with heavily bolstered partial-leather Recaro sports seats as the centerpiece of the cockpit. Signature RS Recaro shell seats, with authentic motorsport microfiber fabric panels, are an option for customers in Europe and Asia.

The interior features the redesigned Focus control layout with its simpler, more intuitive design. SYNC connectivity provides access to audio, navigation, climate control and mobile phones via voice control and via a high-definition, eight-inch color touchscreen. Simple voice commands such as "Find a race track" enable RS owners to get instant directions to the nearest public circuit.

Throughout the cabin, the distinctive blue RS theme is echoed through stitching on the seats, steering wheel, floor mats and interior trim, the colored graphic on the gear shifter, and via the RS logo itself, which is proudly displayed on the seats, steering wheel and door scuff plates.

Four striking exterior colors include Nitrous Blue, a vibrant four-coat metallic finish exclusive to the RS, as well as Stealth Grey, Absolute Black and Frozen White. The car revealed in Cologne features the same special Liquid Blue color scheme first seen on the all-new Ford GT revealed last month at the North American International Auto Show.

Focus RS is the latest in a hot flush of Fords | Stuff.co.nz
 
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